Comedian Demetri Martin's initital career trajectory wasn't aimed toward show business stardom; the New Jersey native went from busing tables in his parents' diner to Yale and a full scholarship at NYU Law School. But a year before graduation, to his family's dismay, he abandoned the justice system to pursue a career in comedy. A gutsy move, but one that paid off, against considerable odds, when Martin worked his way up to a recurring spot on The Daily Show. One hour specials, comedy albums, Windows Vista ads, and a flurry of palindromes followed.
Tonight and next Tuesday night [June 3rd] Martin will take the stage at Rififi [332 East 11th Street] at 10:30 p.m. to try out new material with unspecified special guests; there is a suggested donation of $5. Below, Martin responds to our questions in writing with characteristic wit.
Do you get fan mail? If so, anything noteworthy? Sometimes. Mostly cards, on holidays, from my grandmothers.
What happened to change your life course from law to comedy? When I look back, I realize it was a series of small choices that I made. You know, one morning I was like “I think I will wear this shirt.” Then I was like, “I think I will wear that shirt,” but, of course they were the same shirt, it was just that my perspective had changed and it was years later. (Note: I wore many other shirts in between, too).
Any regrets? Not that I know of.
What’s your movie project, Will, about? Oh, shit. You just reminded me that I should have written that script better. That’s a regret. So, okay, one regret.
And Moon People? Crap. Make that two.
Now that you’re a well-known comedian, do you feel like you have to be ‘on’ all the time even when you don’t feel like it? I’m not even ‘on’ all the time on stage. That makes it easier to be ‘off’ or just between ‘on’ and ‘off’ most of the time off stage. (That could be called ‘onff.')
What neighborhood do you live in? Pros/Cons? Pros.
If you could change one thing about New York what would it be? I would update it. Then, it could be called ‘Newer York’ or something.
What’s going on with Rififi? Is it going to stay open? I’m not sure. I thought it was closing. And then I heard it wasn’t. Either way, it smells weird in there.
What’s something most people would be surprised to know about Jon Stewart? He can know the thoughts of one of his employees when that employee is answering questions in an interview and his name comes up.
What’s something most people would be surprised to know about you? How much I respect Jon Stewart’s remote interview-related superpowers.
You’re good at trendspotting. What are the next big trends we should get into now, so we’re ahead of the game? I’m not sure. Something that involves silvery things and also like a new kind of music or mueslix (one of those-sounding words).
Ever been heckled? What’s the worst heckling you’ve had to deal with? I’ve been heckled several times. It’s a tie between all of them for shittiness (had a lot of trouble spelling that word – shittyness?)
Where do you think your comic abilities come from? Still trying to figure out origin, extent and longevity.
Any advice for younger comedians? Yes.
What’s the weirdest fan interaction you’ve had? One time I was jumping on a bed and almost hit my head on a ceiling fan.
You’ve done stand-up at Bonnaroo. How does that audience measure up to other rooms? It’s got more sweat and dirt on it.